Between Shenandoah National Park, Ivy Creek and Ragged Mountain (among others), there are (seemingly) more than enough natural attractions in our area. But we can’t overlook Charlottesville’s proximity to other noteworthy nature spots. Here are three we’re crossing off our list this season.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
1800 Lakeside Ave. (Richmond)
This living museum offers more than 50 acres of gardens, from the whimsical (a thatched-roof cottage is the centerpiece of the conservatory) to the contemplative (Asian Valley, which houses plants and trees native to Asia, provides moments of reflection). Don’t miss the Cochrane Rose Garden, which boasts more than 70 varieties of roses from nurseries in France, Italy, Germany and England.
Edith J. Carrier Arboretum
780 University Blvd. (Harrisonburg)
Combining 33 acres of botanical gardens and 92 acres of forest, this Shenandoah Valley arboretum serves as a living laboratory for students of James Madison University, where it’s located. The grounds fulfill purposes of research, teaching and demonstration, as well as a brilliant display—natives, non-natives, an oak hickory forest, a lowland swale, herb and rose gardens, a pond habitat—for visitors.
Williamsburg Botanical Garden
5537 Centerville Rd. (Williamsburg)
Located at the center of Freedom Park, Williamsburg Botanical Garden stuns with 15 separate botanical areas, from a monarch butterfly waystation and wildflower meadow to three wetland areas and a bulb garden, which houses 15 kinds of daffodils that bloom from January to April. Sign up for a workshop and learn to garden with rocks, grow vegetables, understand snakes and more.